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Why an international perspective matters 

Mena and women sitting around a table talking and looking at a presentation slides on a large screen. On the table are laptops, notebooks, bottles of water and snacks on trays.

Writes Nadira Hussain, CEO of Socitm

A weekend in Rome

Having returned from Rome a couple of weeks ago from a Major Cities of Europe (MCE) Executive Committee meeting, I’ve been thinking about why I gave up my weekend to attend the meeting.

Of course Rome is an amazing city to visit. That goes without saying. The historical significance and architectural brilliance is enough to attract anyone to such a place. But, when quality time at home with family and catching up on chores after a busy week at work is the alternative, it can be difficult to strike a balance!   

Opportunity to be relished

I do actually relish the opportunity of these type of activities where one can visit another place. Learn about its culture and uniqueness, feel how different people live within their communities and experience what is working well within the place and what is not. Most tourists and travellers want to seek this benefit. Being able to do so in a professional capacity to learn from the experience and apply the lessons learned in a practical way, is even more reassuring. 

Socitm’s international partners

At Socitm, we pride ourselves on the relationships we have established and the work we are undertaking with our international partners and colleagues.

Having been a key participant in both the MCE forum for the last 13 years and the Linked Organisation of Local Authorities (LOLA) for 25 years, Socitm influences and shapes the way in which these communities evolve. We help to develop the remit of the network and define the scope and areas of particular interest and application for their members.

There is particular focus in the use of digital, data and transformative technologies (DDaT)  to help improve local public services and therefore the outcomes for people and communities in places. We have also been able to contribute to the planning and delivery of the events, webinars and other research and development activities forming the forward plans.  

Socitm is a renowned and well-regarded society within these international communities and the associated organisations. Our contribution, advice, support and professional expertise is regularly sought to understand how other cities and countries compare to the UK position – in terms of the use of DDaT capabilities – to achieve better outcomes for all.

We are requested to share our stories, case studies and provide feedback on ‘what works’. What a great opportunity to showcase the innovative work that we’re undertaking to improve place-shaping and place-making here in the UK. That’s a really exciting position to be in. 

Simplify and share

We too can certainly learn from others. Socitm’s mantra of ‘simplify, standardise, share and sustain’ absolutely rings true in this regard.

We need to do far more to share what others are doing and learn from it ourselves.

We need to help with the adoption of ‘what works’ and improve the scalability of solutions; something our members are continuously seeking our support on.

It’s inspiring that in response to these challenges we also have an international reach to enable us to:

  • undertake research,
  • create collateral with the input of a wider and far more diverse perspective, and
  • share good practice from further afield.

Why we continue to reinvent the wheel, when financial pressures continue to impact the public sector and precious resources are in such high demand, is still a real issue.  

We’re keen to ensure we remain current, relevant and informed in terms of the thought leadership we can offer to our members and the sector. We can only provide this robust position if we are able to access research and information in a timely manner and from local and international sources and perspectives – to present far more diverse views, experiences and expertise.  

The Institute

Socitm’s Institute, our one-stop shop for research, development, policy-related work and learning interventions is the home we have created for this thought leadership as well as to enable access to other practical assets for our various audiences. The Institute will continue to grow and develop and deliver tangible benefits for members and partners at a local level.

More recent examples of successful outputs from our Institute are the AI policy guidance and the Digital Trends 2024 report; both of which were created with international input and offer immediate options for local adoption and application. 

Finally, from a personal development perspective, connecting with others and learning from their experience and expertise is invaluable. The learning aids the development of ideas and absolutely reinforces the importance of a growth mindset. 


Read about Socitm’s Adventures in New Zealand….